Portal:Cetaceans

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A Sperm Whale fluke
The order Cetacea includes the whales, dolphins and porpoises and comprise the mammals most fully adapted to aquatic life. It contains 81 known species organized in two suborders: Mysticeti (baleen whales) and Odontoceti (toothed whales, which includes dolphins and porpoises). The order contains several record breaking species, with the Blue Whale being the largest animal known, and the Orca being the most widely distributed animal.

Cetaceans evolved from land mammals that adapted to marine life about 50 million years ago. Over a period of a few millions of years during the Eocene, the cetaceans returned to the sea. Their body is fusiform (spindle-shaped), the forelimbs are modified into flippers, the tiny hindlimbs are vestigial and the tail has horizontal flukes. Cetaceans are nearly hairless, and are insulated by a thick layer of blubber.

Cetaceans inhabit all of the world's oceans, as well as some rivers in South America and Asia. Some species can be found across the globe.

Cetology is the branch of marine science associated with the study of cetaceans.

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Orcas perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.
A dolphinarium is an artificial aquarium for dolphins. The dolphins are kept in a large pool, though occasionally they are also kept in pens, either for research or for public performances. Some dolphinariums consist of little more than one pool where dolphins perform for the public, others have expanded in much larger parks often having more than one pool, keeping other marine animals as well and also having other attractions. These larger parks are often no longer considered to be dolphinariums themselves, but marine mammal parks or other theme parks that also have a dolphinarium. A dolphinarium can also be part of a zoo.

Though cetaceans have been held in captivity in both North America and Europe since the 1860's, dolphins were first kept for paid entertainment in the Marine Studios dolphinarium founded in 1938 in St. Augustine, Florida. It was here that an employee discovered during feeding that dolphins could be trained to perform tricks. Recognizing the success of Marine Studios, more dolphinariums keeping dolphins for entertainment followed.

In the 1960's, keeping dolphins in captivity for entertainment purposes became even more popular after the 1963 Flipper movie and subsequent Flipper television series. In 1966, the first dolphin was exported to Europe. In these early days, dolphinariums could grow quickly due to a lack of legislation and little care for animal welfare. New legislation, most notably the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act in the United States, combined with a more critical view on animal welfare forced many dolphinariums around the world to close their doors. As an example, at one point during the early 1970's there were 36 dolphinariums and travelling dolphin shows in the United Kingdom, none of which still exist today, the last dolphinarium in the UK having closed its doors in 1993.

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  • 10 February - Filipino fishermen have rescued around 200 melon-headed whales which were stranded in shallow waters off the coast of Bataan. Only three dolphins were reported to have died. more

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A Harbour Porpoise.
  • ...that while the main predators of the Harbour Porpoise are Great white sharks and Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphins have been witnessed attacking and killing porpoises in response to a lessing food supply.
  • ...Aboriginal whalers are permitted to hunt cetaceans, despite the IWC's memorandum on commercial hunting.
  • ...the melon is an oval shaped oily, fatty lump of tissue found at the centre of the forehead of most dolphins and toothed whales, located between the blowhole and the end of the head.
  • ...the Spinner Dolphin is so called because of its acrobatic displays in which they will spin longitudinally along their axis as they leap through the air.
  • ...that the Tay Whale was a Humpback whale unlucky enough to be spotted near Dundee, Scotland, then the UK's premier whaling port, in early December, 1883.
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Humpback Whales often breach the waters surface.
Photo credit: Cornelia Oedekoven

Many whales are known to breach the waters surface. The act of leaping generates more power than any other act performed by a non-human animal.

Some whales, such as Sperm Whales, perform a breach by travelling vertically upwards from depth, and heading straight out of the water. Others, such as the Humpback Whale (pictured), travel close to the surface and parallel to it, and then jerk upwards at full speed to perform a breach. In a typical breach, as performed by a Humpback or Right Whale, the whale clears the water at an angle of about 30° to the horizontal.

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Whale species

Andrews' Beaked WhaleBalaenoptera omuraiBelugaBlainville's Beaked WhaleBlue Whale Cscr-featured.svgBottlenose WhaleBowhead WhaleBryde's WhaleCuvier's Beaked WhaleDwarf Sperm WhaleFin Whale Cscr-featured.svgGervais' Beaked WhaleGiant beaked whaleGinkgo-toothed Beaked WhaleGray WhaleGray's Beaked WhaleHector's Beaked WhaleHubbs' Beaked WhaleHumpback Whale Cscr-featured.svgLayard's Beaked WhaleLongman's Beaked WhaleMelon-headed WhaleMinke WhaleNarwhalPerrin's Beaked WhalePygmy Beaked WhalePygmy Killer WhalePygmy Right WhalePygmy Sperm WhaleRight Whale Cscr-featured.svgSei Whale Cscr-featured.svgShepherd's Beaked WhaleSowerby's Beaked WhaleSpade Toothed WhaleSperm Whale Symbol support vote.svgStejneger's Beaked WhaleTrue's Beaked Whale

Dolphin species

Atlantic Spotted DolphinAtlantic White-sided DolphinAustralian Snubfin DolphinBaijiBotoChilean DolphinClymene DolphinCommerson's DolphinCommon Bottlenose DolphinDusky Dolphin Symbol support vote.svgFalse Killer WhaleFraser's DolphinGanges and Indus River DolphinHeaviside's DolphinHector's DolphinHourglass DolphinHumpback dolphinIndo-Pacific Bottlenose DolphinIrrawaddy DolphinKiller Whale Cscr-featured.svgLa Plata DolphinLong-beaked Common DolphinLong-finned pilot whalePacific White-sided DolphinPantropical Spotted DolphinPeale's DolphinPygmy Killer WhaleRight whale dolphinRisso's DolphinRough-toothed DolphinShort-beaked Common DolphinShort-finned pilot whaleSpinner DolphinStriped DolphinTucuxiWhite-beaked Dolphin

Porpoise species

Burmeister's PorpoiseDall's PorpoiseFinless PorpoiseHarbour PorpoiseSpectacled PorpoiseVaquita

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Aboriginal whalingAmbergrisAnimal echolocationArchaeocetiBaleenBaleen whaleBeached whaleBeaked WhaleBlowhole (biology)BlubberBottlenose dolphin Symbol support vote.svgCallosityCephalorhynchusCetaceaCetacean intelligenceCetologyCetology of Moby-DickCommon dolphinCumberland Sound BelugaDolphinDolphinarium Symbol support vote.svgDolphin drive hunting Symbol support vote.svgEvolution of cetaceansExploding whaleHarpoonHistory of whalingInstitute of Cetacean ResearchInternational Whaling CommissionLagenorhynchusMelon (whale)Mesoplodont WhaleMilitary dolphinMoby-DickMocha DickMonodontidaeOceanic dolphinOrcaellaPilot Whale Symbol support vote.svgPorpoiseRiver dolphinRiver Thames WhaleRorqualsSperm whale familySperm whalingSpermacetiStenellaTay WhaleThe Marine Mammal CenterToothed WhaleU.S. Navy Marine Mammal ProgramWhaleWhalingWhale and Dolphin Conservation SocietyWhale surfacing behaviourWhale oilWhale louseWhale songWhale watchingWolphin

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